Who is Kim Yo Jong? 10 facts about the sister of the North Korean dictator and “PR Queen Pyongyang”
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un has not appeared in public since April 11 – according to conflicting media reports, he is either resting at the resort, or is sick, or is dead. Be that as it may, amid these rumors, his sister, as a possible successor, is in the spotlight.
We’ve Gathered 10 Interesting Facts About Kim Yo Jong
1. Kim Yo Jung is about 30 years old – According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, she was born in Pyongyang on September 26, 1989, and according to the South Korean intelligence service in 1987.
2. Kim Yo Jong – the youngest child of Kim Jong Il and his wife, a former ballerina of Japanese descent Ko Yong Hee. Daughter was her father’s favorite. He called her “princess” and predicted a successful career for the girl. In 2002, Kim Jong Il said that his youngest daughter is interested in politics and wants to work in the North Korean government.
3. From 1996 to 2000, Kim Yong-jeong, together with her brother Kim Jong-un, studied at a school in Switzerland, where she also took ballet lessons. Brother and sister lived in a private house under the supervision of bodyguards. Then, according to South Korean researcher Yunshik Bon, “they were practically in exile together, knowing what the future holds for them,” and “found a strong sense of common destiny.” Later, Kim Yo Jeong returned to North Korea and continued her education at a military university, and then studied computer science at Kim Il Sung University.
4. After her return to Pyongyang, Kim Yo Jeong was hardly seen in public for 10 years. According to the American media, all this time her aunt Kim Kyung Hee, who was an assistant to Kim Jong Il, was preparing her niece for the same role under Kim Jong Un. Both women are moving up the career ladder to help their brothers, said former CIA analyst Jung Pak. Kim Yo Jeong began to lead a public life after the burial of her father in 2011, when power passed to her brother.
5. On February 9, 2018, Kim Yo Jeong attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. This was the first time that a member of the ruling dynasty of the DPRK visited South Korea after the Korean War. The Air Force calls Kim Yo Jeong the “secret weapon of North Korea” and the “PR Queen of Pyongyang,” recalling how she aroused the sympathy of the South Korean media when she arrived in Seoul. Journalists wrote about her hair and freckles. However, many of them forgot to mention that the US Treasury put it on the black list for violating human rights in the DPRK. In 2017, when the name Kim Yo Jeong was put on the register, department director John Smith said that “the North Korean regime not only grossly violates human rights, but also pursues a strict policy of censorship and hides its inhuman and repressive behavior.” According to him, the officials on the list are responsible for this.
6. Since 2015, Kim Yong-jung has been the first deputy director of the propaganda and agitation department of the Central Committee of the Labor Party of Korea. She is considered one of Kim Jong-un’s closest associates and a person who works on his political image. She often accompanies her brother on diplomatic trips. At the Hanoi summit, she gave Kim Jong-un her pen for signing documents in exchange for the one on the table, and while holding the armored train of the DPRK leader in China, she held an ashtray while he smoked. However, according to the South Korean think tank, Kim Yo-jeong also takes on more responsible functions – for example, once she ruled the country during her brother’s illness.
7. Kim Yo Jeong has already made political statements twice, which underlines her important role in the regime. Last month, she condemned South Korea after Seoul protested against Pyongyang’s military exercises. Kim Yo-jeong said South Korea is “yapping like a frightened dog.” Also in March, she praised Donald Trump, who expressed hope for maintaining good bilateral relations and offered DPRK assistance in the fight against coronavirus. Kim Yo Jeong noted that President Trump and her brother had “a special and lasting personal relationship,” despite the ongoing conflict over nuclear weapons. After that, journalists called her “North Korean Ivanka” – by analogy with Trump’s daughter, who also has an influence on the US president.
9. Against the background of rumors of her brother’s death, sister Kim Jong-un became the heroine of memes and anime art. Social media users call her “the first female dictator” and “dictator-chan” (“chan” is a Japanese suffix used by anime fans when it comes to a cute young girl). In most memes, Kim Yong-jung plans to take the reins from his brother or rejoices that he gained power after his death. Twitter users even found a heroine similar to her in the cartoon “Avatar: The Legend of the Airanga” – this is the main antagonist of Azul, who was trying to take the throne from her older brother. In addition, Kim Yo Jung is compared with Natalia Poklonskaya – due to the fact that both women have a pretty appearance.
10. Experts argue about whether Kim Yo Jeong can take his brother’s place if something really happened to him. On the one hand, the choice of her candidacy seems obvious. Kim Jong-un has children, but they are still too small to rule the country, and his older brother, Kim Jong-chol, is not interested in politics and enjoys playing the guitar. “North Korea is by far one of the most chauvinistic societies in the world, but the pedigree, supplemented by belonging to the Korean Workers’ Party, replaces gender,” said South Korean diplomat Chung Yungwu. On the other hand, the DPRK has always been ruled by men. Experts doubt that Kim Ye-jeong will manage to change this. “She cannot be a leader. She is a woman, ”says Lim Cheon, a professor at the University of Korea in Seoul, who is studying the Kim family.